YouTube’s Own Brand of Celebrity Chef

Type ‘cooking’ into the YouTube search engine and you get 510,000 videos results. Granted, the number is dwarfed by the search results for ‘sex’ or ‘Xbox’ or even ‘cats,’ but it’s still impressive. While there are plenty of quirky, niche, and gratuitously not-ready-for-prime-time submissions, the bulk of the YouTube cooking videos are charmingly entertaining and solidly instructive. Relax the production standards, take away the preening celebrity chefs, and you could be watching the Food Network.

Bayla ‘Bubbe’ Sher is a genuine YouTube celebrity featured in publications like the Wall Street Journal, the New York Post, appearing on ABC World News, and now the subject of a PBS Frontline documentary airing next month. Along with her mensch of a grandson Avrom, this 80-something Jewish bubbe (Yiddish for grandmother) hosts the wildly endearing Cooking with Bubbe. Bayla and Avrom have tapped into the public’s nostalgia and yearning for a cozy kitchen with a simmering soup kettle. The show is a magical blend of classic Jewish foods like brisket, kugel, borscht, and stuffed cabbage combined with Bubbe’s anecdotes and advice.

Clara Cannucciari is another senior citizen who became a YouTube breakout star. Also aided by her grandson, 94 year-old Clara hosts Great Depression Cooking. With a feistiness that belies her elderly, bespectacled appearance, Clara maintains a steady stream of on-screen banter and kitchen tips, peppering her budget-friendly cooking with tales from a Depression-era childhood.

The star of Cooking with Dog is indeed a dog. Francis the poodle narrates the segments, providing French-tinged translation for the Japanese-speaking chef-host. Would you believe me if I told you that it works? The videos are instructive and thorough and the everyday Japaneses dishes are delicious in this surprisingly un-gimmicky series.

Julian Kreusser is another YouTube star who breaks the mold. A six-year old with his own twice-weekly cooking show, he navigates kitchen hazards like sharp knives and hot stovetops with an alarming vulnerability as he churns out kid-friendly dishes like spaghetti and zucchini bread. His winning naturalness and propensity for forgetting that he’s on-camera keep the show from sliding into cloying cuteness. The Big Kitchen With Food, which debuted on YouTube when Julian was just five, has garnered him an international following and a show on Portland’s PBS station.

Clearly, YouTube has produced its own breed of home-grown celebrity chefs. Quirky with decidedly niche appeal, they lack the glossy sheen of network stars. They might not yet be household names, but they do have audiences that rival and even surpass those for network television cooking series.

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One Response to YouTube’s Own Brand of Celebrity Chef

  1. Hola. Excelente artículo, te añadiré a mi lector de noticias RSS. Adios!

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